May 24, 2018
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Many furloughed Maine National Guard employees may be recalled

Courtesy Maine National Guard | BDN
Courtesy Maine National Guard | BDN
Maj. Michael Steinbuchel
By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

DEDHAM, Maine — When Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced Saturday that the Pentagon is recalling many of its roughly 400,000 civilian employees sent home last week as part of the government shutdown, the commander of the Maine National Guard was put on alert.

“Essentially, the commander of the National Guard is assessing what that means” to the 406 Maine Army and Air National Guard employees furloughed Tuesday and another 44 state employees paid by the federal government identified Saturday, said Maj. Michael Steinbuchel, public affairs officer for both branches of the Maine National Guard.

“It’s a partial recall, [but] we anticipate a large majority of our people returning to work tomorrow,” the major said Sunday just before the Freedom Salute at the Augusta Civic Center for the 488th Military Police Company who returned from Afghanistan in mid-July. “I would say 99 percent are likely, I’m guessing, to go back to work.”

The breakdown of furloughed federal civilian technicians is 222 in the Maine Army National Guard and 184 in the Air National Guard.

The furloughed Guard employees are stationed all around Maine, but most are from the Armed Forces Reserve Center, Camp Keyes in Augusta and Bangor’s Maine Air National Guard base — home of the 101st Air Refueling Wing.

Hagel said a legal review of the “Pay Our Military Act,” signed by President Barack Obama on the eve of the shutdown, would allow him to bring a still-unspecified number of civilians back to work next week.

“I expect us to be able to significantly reduce — but not eliminate — civilian furloughs under this process,” Hagel said.

Since the start of the shutdown, American troops have felt the fallout from the feuding in Washington despite legislation meant to protect them. Republicans in the House of Representatives have tried to defund or delay Obama’s signature health care law as a condition of funding the government, leading to the impasse.

Reuters contributed to this story.

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